Fusion – two vertebrae are joined together, with a bone graft inserted between them. The vertebrae are splinted together with metal plates, screws or cages. There is a significantly greater risk for arthritis to subsequently develop in the adjoining vertebrae.
Coste J, Delecoeuillerie G, Cohen de Lara A, Le Parc JM, Paolaggi JB. Clinical course and prognostic factors in acute low back pain: an inception cohort study in primary care practice. BMJ. 1994;308:577–80. PainSci #57081.
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Infection. Also called osteomyelitis, a spinal infection is rare but can cause severe pain and is life threatening if untreated. It can be caused by surgical procedures, injections, or spread through the blood stream. Patients with a compromised immune system are more susceptible to developing an infection in the spine.
2016 — Science update: Some fresh citations that strongly reinforce the main point of the section, and a few entertaining new examples of weird placebo effects. [Section: The back surgery placebo problem, and how it limits our knowledge of the effectiveness of back surgeries.]
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Nerve studies (electromyography, or EMG). This test measures the electrical impulses produced by the nerves and the responses of your muscles. This test can confirm nerve compression caused by herniated disks or narrowing of your spinal canal (spinal stenosis).
While additional authors have investigated the effect of various support systems on bodily symptoms, much of this work has been performed on healthy individuals. Aota et al.  measured the biomechanical effects and comfort levels when using a lumbar support cushion that inflated from 0.5 to 8.0 cm thick in a continuous passive motion chair. They noted significant improvements in the subjective measures of LBP, stiffness and fatigue with use of the system in both static and dynamic states. Conversely, Carcone and Keir  noted that, while a lumbar pad measuring 9 cm thick best maintained the lumbar lordosis in sitting, participants tended to complain that it pushed their body forward, the result being a centre of pressure (CoP) that more anteriorly located on the seat pan. In their study, participants also reported that configurations with less lordosis (i.e., less than 3 cm) were more comfortable . Portable devices that do not account for the bulk of posterior pelvic soft tissue volume may push the lower body forward and distort the intended relationship between the seat pan features and the body . The preferred degree of lordosis may be related to the pain state of the individual , in that comfort may be affected by the angular change as well as the interaction between the buttocks and the seat pan.
Spinal disc degeneration coupled with disease in joints of the low back can lead to spinal-canal narrowing (spinal stenosis). These changes in the disc and the joints produce symptoms and can be seen on an X-ray. A person with spinal stenosis may have pain radiating down both lower extremities while standing for a long time or walking even short distances.
Back pain can significantly disrupt sleep. People should avoid sleeping in late to compensate for lost sleep overnight. Instead, they should try to maintain a regular schedule with consistent bedtime and wake times. Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours every day.
Herbal medicines, as a whole, are poorly supported by evidence. The herbal treatments Devil’s claw and white willow may reduce the number of individuals reporting high levels of pain; however, for those taking pain relievers, this difference is not significant. Capsicum, in the form of either a gel or a plaster cast, has been found to reduce pain and increase function.
If you are experiencing sharp pain in the lower back, particularly on one side, you may be experiencing kidney stones. Also known as a renal calculus, a kidney stone is a solid piece of material formed in the kidney by minerals.
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Jump up ^ Momsen AM, Rasmussen JO, Nielsen CV, Iversen MD, Lund H (November 2012). Multidisciplinary team care in rehabilitation: an overview of reviews. J Rehabil Med. 44 (11): 901–12. doi:10.2340/16501977-1040. PMID 23026978. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013.